Senator John McCain made a secret trip to a Kurdish-held region in northern Syria last weekend to speak with US military officials, but more importantly to speak with rebel fighters, and leaders in the region.
Here are photos of some past meetings John McCain had when he was in Syria speaking with “rebel fighters” (aka ISIS-Al Qaeda).
Julie Tarallo, a spokeswoman for Senator McCain, confirmed that he did make the unusual trip to Syria, calling it a “valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the ground in Syria and Iraq.”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) February 22, 2017
In an unusual move for a sitting senator, John McCain (R-AZ) secretly traveled to northern Syria last weekend to speak with American military officials and Kurdish fighters at the forefront of the push to drive Islamic State out of their de facto capital of Raqqa. The short visit came in the middle of a regional trip that took McCain from Saudi Arabia to Turkey, where he discussed evolving plans to counter the Islamic State in the Middle East.
Via the Wall Street Journal…
U.S. officials familiar with Mr. McCain’s trip said that the senator traveled to Kobani, the Syrian town on the Turkey border controlled by Kurdish forces since 2012.
In a statement, Mr. McCain’s office confirmed that a trip took place, saying the senator “traveled to northern Syria last week to visit U.S. forces deployed there and to discuss the counter-ISIL campaign and ongoing operations to retake Raqqa.”
Mr. McCain is believed to be the first U.S. lawmaker to travel to the Kurdish-controlled area of northeastern Syria since it became a hub for American special-operations forces who are aiding local forces in the fight against Islamic State.
Constructive mtg w/ Pres Erdogan 2day- US-Turkey alliance based on democratic values impt to confront global threats https://t.co/BFZCqQmBWg
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) February 20, 2017
After traveling to Syria, McCain then met with Turkish President Erdogan who views Kurdish fighters in the region as an existential threat to his rule, while has concurrently aiding ISIS in Syria in its war against Assad.
Zerohedge notes that Trump has supported “plans to create safe zones in Syria for civilians fleeing the conflict there. Such safe zones could provide an alternative to admitting refugees to the U.S., according to Trump, but would also force greater US military deployment to the region.”
According to the WSJ, the safe-zone proposal represents a significant policy reversal from the administration of Barack Obama, who long resisted pressure for such an approach from Congress and U.S. allies in the Middle East because he believed it would draw the U.S. too deeply into another war.
Establishing safe zones in Syria would mark an escalation in America’s military involvement there. In addition to the initial military buildup that likely would be needed to create the zones, ground troops and additional air power will be needed to protect them, military officials have said. Such zones would also put U.S.-allied forces in dangerous proximity to foreign troops, including forces from Russia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
As a reminder, gas-rich Qatar works alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Western nations to back Syrian rebels in a military aid program overseen by the CIA that provides moderate groups with arms and training. A natgas pipeline project connecting Qatar to Europe has been often cited as the main reason for the relentless attempts to destabilize and overthrow the Assad regime, and to impose a puppet regime that would be aggreable to the project, one which would significantly reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas exports.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) February 21, 2017